Limnology, River Restoration, EU Water Framework Directive (Limnolab)

Mission statement

© Ines Lober / Benjamin Kupilas

We are interested in the effects of anthropogenic stressors (e. g. climate change and land use) on our aquatic ecosystems and in the management and conservation of biodiversity and system functions in the face of global change. Our research combines field and laboratory work, experimental studies (manipulation in mesocosms) as well as the evaluation of existing data sets.

  • Team

    Dr. Friederike Gabel & Dr. Benjamin Kupilas (team leader)

    Prof. Dr. Tillmann Buttschardt
    Dr. Friederike Gabel
    Dr. Benjamin Kupilas

    graduate and undergraduate students


  • Call for tenders for theses
    © AG Ökoplan

    Water courses are exposed to a wide variety of stressors, usually at the same time. Classical laboratory or field experiments, however, often only examine individual factors. In small mesocosm facilities, different stressors can be applied separately or in combination, e.g. effects of climate change (such as temperature increase in the water body or low water) can be combined with eutrophication effects or similar. In the next summer semester, mainly catchment-related stressors on various organisms such as the macrozoobenthos will be investigated.
    If you are interested, please contact Dr. Benjamin Kupilas ( or Dr. Friederike Gabel (

    Apply now
    © A.G. Hagen, NIVA

    Do you want to join us in Norway to take part in a mesocosm experiment or propose your own project? We are funding scientists and students with up to 100 person days in 2023.

    At NIVA’S research station we have 16 outdoor stainless steel flumes to mimic streams. Flumes are typically filled with natural substratum and stocked with biota before starting experiments. Controlled parameters include discharge, flow velocity and temperature. A unique feature in running water experimental set-ups at the scale of the flumes is individual heating  of the water in each flume to mimic for example heatwaves. Substratum composition, water chemistry and biological components can be controlled to elucidate responses of stream communities and ecosystem processes to climate change and other environmental stressors. The facility includes pumps, thermostats and a groundwater dwelling in addition to temperature loggers, light meters, velocity meters, etc. Laboratories associated with the facilities on site are equipped for water-chemical, microscopic and other routine analyses. Additional chemical analyses and other measurements can be made at the main NIVA lab in Oslo 60 km.

     Contact:Benjamin Kupilas
     More information about Transnational Access:

  • Projects

    EUfMa - Gewässerentwicklung erheblich veränderter Fließgewässersystem

    MikroPlaTaS - Microplastics in Dams an Reservoirs: Sedimentation, Spread, Effects

    Video series "Sustainability at the University of Münster": The research project "MikroPlaTaS “

    © 2021 WWU

    A feature on the project "Microplastics in dams and reservoirs: sedimentation, distribution, effects (MikroPlaTaS)" has been published in the series Sustainability at the WWU (in German Language). A new video informs about the project on which Dr. Friederike Gabel and Diana Michler-Kozma are the involved researchers at ILÖK. Numerous theses have also been written in this field of reserach.

    Mesocosm facility at Aa stream


    © AG Ökoplan
    • © I. Lober
    • © Ines Lober
    • © Ines Lober
    • © AG Ökoplan
    • © AG Ökoplan
    • © AG Ökoplan
    • © AG Ökoplan
    • © AG Ökoplan
    • © AG Ökoplan
    • © AG Ökoplan
    • © AG Ökoplan
    • © AG Ökoplan
    • © AG Ökoplan

    We study the possibility to actively recolonize sensitive macroinvertebrate taxa into morphologically restored stream sections under multiple stress using a stream-side mesocosm facility at the Münstersche Aa, Germany. Our facility comprises 32 circular stream mesocosms based on the ExStream set up (Piggott et al. 2015, Global Change Biology, 21(1):206–222. which enables a high degree of realism as they are run with stream water, which permits natural immigration and emigration of organisms, at the same time offering an unparalleled combination of strict control of experimental variables and excellent statistical power.

  • Recent publications

    • Eibes, P.M., F. Gabel (2022): Floating microplastic debris in a rural river in Germany: Distribution, types and potential sources and sinks. Science of The Total Environment, Volume 816
    • Michler-Kozma D.N., Neu T.R., Gabel  F. (2021): Environmental conditions affect the food quality of plastic associated biofilms for the benthic grazer Physa fontinalis. Science of the Total Environment
    • Maasri, A. Jähnig S.C., ... Kupilas, B., ... Worischka, S. (2021): A global agenda for advancing freshwater biodiversity research. Ecology letters
    • Popescu, C., O.M. Pavelescu, V. Dinu, C. Cazacu, F.J. Burdon, M.A.E. Forio, M.A.E., B. Kupilas, B., N. Friberg, P. Goethals, B.G. McKie, G. Rîșnoveanu (2021): Riparian Vegetation Structure Influences Terrestrial Invertebrate Communities in an Agricultural Landscape. Water 2021, 13, 188.
    • Grote, H. (2021): Anwendung des Konzeptes der hydromorphologischen-ökologischen Aue am Beispiel der Ems. In: Wasserwirtschaft 1/2021: 49-53
    • Forio, M.A.E., N. De Troyer, K. Lock, F. Witing, L. Baert, N. De Saeyer, G. Rîșnoveanu, C. Popescu, F.J. Burdon, B. Kupilas, N. Friberg, P. Boets, M. Volk, B.G. McKie, P. Goethals (2020):  Small Patches of Riparian Woody Vegetation Enhance Biodiversity of Invertebrates.  Water 2020, 12(11), 3070; DOI:
    • Fröhlich J., J. Josten, I. Lober, N. Diehle, P. Günner, C. Edler, T.K. Buttschardt (2020): Wanted: Groppe - auf Spurensiche in der Vechte. In: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Limnologie e.V. (Hrsg.): Ergebnisse der Jahrestagung 2019 der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Limnologie (DGL), Münster 23.-27.09.2019:  77-80 Weblink
    • Kupilas, B., B.G. McKie, K. Januschke, N.F riberg, D. Hering (2020): Stable isotope analysis indicates positive effects of river restoration on aquatic-terrestrial linkages. Ecological Indicators Volume 113, June 2020. DOI 10.1016/j.ecolind.2020.106242
    • Mutinova, P.T., M.Kahlert, B. Kupilas, B.G. McKie, N. Friberg, F.J. Burdon (2020): Benthic Diatom Communities in Urban Streams and the Role of Riparian Buffers. Water 2020, 12(10), 2799;
    • Burdon, F.J., E. Ramberg, J. Sargac, M.A. Eurie Forio, N. de Saeyer, P.T. Mutinova, T. Fosholt Moe, M. Oprina Pavelescu, V. Dinu, C. Cazacu, F. Witing, B. Kupilas, U. Grandin, M. Volk, G. Rîsnoveanu, P. Goethals, N. Friberg, R.K. Johnson and B.G. McKie (2020): Assessing the Benefits of Forested Riparian Zones: A Qualitative Index of Riparian Integrity Is Positively Associated with Ecological Status in European Streams. Water 2020, 12, 1178. doi: 10.3390/w12041178
    • Hübner, M. K., D.N. Michler-Kozma, F. Gabel (2020): Microplastic concentrations at the water surface are reduced by decreasing flow velocities caused by a reservoir. Fundamental and Applied Limnology. doi: 10.1127/fal/2020/1307
    • Walter, P., B. Kupilas (2020): Litterbags - ein funktionaler Indikator zur funktionalen Fließgewässerbewertung im Test an der Münsterschen Aa. In: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Limnologie e.V. (Hrsg.): Ergebnisse der Jahrestagung 2019 der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Limnologie (DGL), Münster 23.-27.09.2019:  77-80 Weblink
    • Weigand, AM; Michler-Kozma, DN; Kuemmerlen, M; Jourdan, J (2020): Substantial differences in genetic diversity and spatial structuring among (cryptic) amphipod species in a mountainous river basin. Freshwater biology. Doi:10.1111/fwb.13529
    • Wersig, L., D. N. Michler-Kozma (2020): Wird die Filtrationsleistung von Corbicula fluminea durch Mikroplastikfasern beeinträchtigt? Ermittlung der Filtrationsleistung mit Hilfe des Farbstoffs Neutral Red. In: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Limnologie e.V. (Hrsg.): Ergebnisse der Jahrestagung 2019
      der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Limnologie (DGL), Münster 23.-27.09.2019:  87-92 Weblink


  • Teaching

    Summer 2021
    S: Landschaftsnutzung und -management (M7, LÖK)
    E: Exkursion Lofoten (B10 / M11, LÖK)
    Winter 2021/22
    P: Forschungsprojekt (M13, LÖK)
    S: Ökologische Verbesserung von Gewässern (M15 WaWi)
    S: Integrated Water Resources MAnagement (M2 WaWi)


  • Equipment

    Limnolab holds equipment to conduct fieldwork in aquatic ecosystems, with the focus on the study of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Moreover, we are closely collaborating with the ILÖK lab, which enables us to analyse water chemistry and stables isotopes (N, C) to investigate food webs. The inventory of our lab includes waders, electrofishing equipment, 200 temperature loggers etc. Furthermore, we are continuously extending